A great deal of controversy exists on using old tires. Tires will do some slow biodegrading and then they may release some carbon, sulfur and zinc – all of which are good for plants if using in the garden – but they also contain PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). If you are using tires outside in the garden, make sure they do not have cuts or holes in them. They may leach some substances into the soil, but it would take a long time. Using tires inside should also be fine especially if you seal them with paint. If you have any misgivings, plant flowers in correlation with tires or don’t use them at all indoors.
Whenever you do use tires, you must clean them before using them. They have been on the road and picked tar, asphalt and who knows what else. Pressure clean them inside and out if you can. The inside actually gets dirtier than the outside. Use a degreasing soap and scrub both the outside and inside with a stiff brush. Rinse off and let completely dry before starting to do the following creative projects.
Who didn’t have access to a tire swing when they were young? You find them in parks, in backyards and in playgrounds. Tires still make a pretty swell swing, but several things can be done to make them a little more modern. Use either exterior house paint or acrylic paint to paint the tires. Paint them all one color or paint a rainbow of stripes. Large polka dots are also an option. You need some chain or rope and some hardware to hang the swing and you can either hang it so it lays flat or vertical. Make sure you attach it to a branch that is very strong and is away from the tree trunk enough to be able to do circles.
This article tells you how to do a flat tire swing with chains, http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-tire-swing/ and this one explains how to do a vertical hanging tire swing using rope, http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/structures/how-to-hang-a-tire-swing-from-a-tree .
Even a regular car tire can make a sand box for a tiny child. You might want to opt for a larger tire from a truck or tractor to make a sand box for older kids. This project is very simple to do and can provide years of fun in the sun. Lay the tire on the ground flat and remove some of the tire around the top hole so that the lip is bigger. Use a reciprocating saw. You will see that the edge is a little sharp and jagged. Just slit open a pool noodle, put each edge around the edge of the tire and glue it down. Paint the tire with exterior paint inside and out and on both sides. Choose an area in the yard for the sandbox and weed it taking out any grass that may grow there. Put down a tarp and place the tire with the pool noodle side up. Fill it with sand. That is all there is to it. You can also cut a piece of plywood to fit the top and cover the sandbox when not in use to keep cats out.
I’m sure you’ve seen the tire planters that are cut and pulled back to look like an urn. These are planters aren’t nearly as complicated and they work pretty well. Just paint a tire and lay it down on the ground flat. Fill it with sterile soil and plant flowers inside. This is a good way to plant mint. Mint is invasive and when planted inside a tire, it can’t go anywhere and will stay put and not spread. You can grow many things in these tires from flowers to herbs and vegetables. Follow your own conscious as to planting edibles in them, but if you paint them with exterior paint inside and out and only grow during the season, there really shouldn’t be a problem. Place many plant filled tires in your yard flat or stack them up to make some taller for some variation.
Make a table for your patio or porch from 8 equal sized tires. Paint them with exterior paint. You can do them all one color or make stripes or dots on them. Stack them on top of one another with 4 on each side. You can bolt them down if you want to be safe. Place a rectangular piece of wood, an old door that has been refinished, or some Plexiglas cut in a rectangle on top for the table top and you have a very unique table.
If your man has a man cave, make him a coffee table out of two tires of equal size. Paint them with exterior paint or leave them plain. Cut a piece of plywood that fits inside the tire hole and sand it down so there are no rough edges. Glue it down to the top tire and refinish or paint it. Another idea is to make an ottoman using a tire, MDF (medium density fiberboard found at hardware stores), some hardware and a drill and rope with hot glue. The hole is covered by the MDF and the rope is glued in the round to the tire to make it a little nautical. This project is easy to do and you can find the instructions at http://www.handimania.com/diy/rope-ottoman.html .
Recycling a tire is better than letting it go to fill up the landfill. These projects are all easy to do and you can usually get tires inexpensive to free when they are old. Make sure to choose tires that do not have any visible holes, rips or have metal showing through. They should be safe to use around kids and animals and if you are afraid they will leach toxins into the soil, only plant ornamental plants inside them.